Forget cards and gentle aerobics - the best way to keep the elderly sharp is to teach them to play video games, new research suggests.
Psychology research at Hamilton's McMaster University shows gamers who spend more than four hours a week playing action video games such as Medal of Honour and Half Life 2 have a surprising array of skills ranging from quick reaction times and good spatial reasoning to a strong awareness of their surroundings and better short-term memory.
With as little as 10 hours of training, non-gamers start to show the same mental strengths, says psychology researcher Jim Karle, a graduate student in the department of psychology, neuroscience and behaviour.
Calling video games "beneficial for the brain," Karle suggested they could be used to help reduce cognitive decline in the elderly.
"Individuals who play action video games on a regular basis - more then four hours a week -appear to be very good at an astonishing variety of skills," said Karle.
"Just as an elderly adult may do 15 minutes of weight training to fight osteoporosis," he said, "so could he or she play video games to keep the mind sharp."
News source: The Toronto Star